The Bruins avenged last month’s loss to the Sabres with a 3-1 win over Buffalo Sunday night at First Niagara Center.
Making his return from a shoulder injury, Brad Marchand got the Bruins on the board and scored his team-leading sixth goal in nine games this season when he took a feed from Andrew Ference and beat Ryan Miller from the top of the left circle. in the second period with Nathan Horton in front. The Sabres would tie it up on a goal from Tyler Ennis following a Bruins power play and a defensive breakdown in the Boston zone. With Dougie Hamilton stuck behind the net, Ennis was wide open in front to take a pass and deke before beating Anton Khudobin.
Though the ineffective power play halted the Bruins’ momentum throughout the first two periods, the B’s finally clicked on the man advantage in the third period to take the lead. Chris Bourque’s wrist shot from the point hit somebody’s leg and went wide off the end boards and bounced in front. With Miller focused on Brad Marchand in front, Patrice Bergeron raced to the puck and sent it in for the his second goal of the season. Milan Lucic added an empty-netter with 48.6 seconds remaining.
With the win, the B’s improved to 8-1-1 on the season with 17 points, their best start through 10 games in history. Their point total puts them two behind the Devils Devils, who beat the Penguins Sunday night to give them 19 through 12 games. Khudobin, who made 24 saves on 25 shots, improved to 2-0-0 on the season.
The Bruins will return to the Garden to face the Rangers on Tuesday night.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– With the shuffling of the top six forwards, it was easy to focus more on how the Milan-Lucic-David Krejci-Tyler Seguin line would fare, but Nathan Horton proved that he’s going to have an impact no matter where he’s playing. The line of Patrice Bergeron between Brad Marchand and Horton was absolutely buzzing in the first period. One chance for the line came midway through the period Horton was denied on a shot from the high slot before racing to the front of the net to be his usual disruptive self. The final minute of the period also saw the trio pepper Ryan Miller with the Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid pairing contributing as well.
– There was nowhere to go but up, but the B’s had a better defensive showing than they did when the teams last met on Jan. 31. Zdeno Chara had his worst game of the season in that 7-4 loss, but was his usual self Sunday, even getting a shorthanded breakaway that came as the result of a 2-on-1 with Chris Kelly. Miller stopped him on a stickside wrist shot, but Chara wasn’t the only Bruin denied by Miller Sunday night.
– Credit Lucic for forcing pressure on Mike Weber to send the puck out in the Sabres’ zone in the third period, resulting in they delay of game penalty that yielded Bergeron’s goal. The Krejci line didn’t look as impressive as the Bergeron line Sunday night, but that play helped give the B’s the lead in a game that shouldn’t have been as close as it was.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Miller was even better than usual and was the difference between the close game it was and the blowout it could have been. The veteran netminder robbed the Bruins on a number of occasions, perhaps most notably with a glove save on Marchand in front after the Bruins’ forward intercepted a pass from Thomas Vanek. He also robbed Bergeron late in the third period with an acrobatic kick save.
– The B’s went 0-for-3 on the power play in the second period (including an unsucessful 5-on-3), thus eating time off what was otherwise a strong period for the B’s offensively. The Sabres’ lone goal came with the Bruins’ power play unit still on the ice.
– Not necessarily something that went right or wrong, but Shawn Thornton and John Scott can get along after all. The two didn’t have a run-in when first on the ice together early in the first, and when there was a scrum in front of the Bruins’ net following a shot from Scott, Thornton held Scott back as the situation was diffused amicably. The only thing to come from that first-period scrum was a bit of shoving between Daniel Paille and Patrick Kaleta, but there wasn’t a fight until Gregory Campbell and Kaleta dropped the gloves later in the period.
– Speaking of that fight, Campbell didn’t exactly win, but he did lose decidedly. Campbell challenged Kaleta after the Buffalo forward finished his hit a bit late on Dennis Seidenberg in the neutral zone. That led to a fight that saw many punches landed on both sides, but the Sabres got the better of it, both because Kaleta landed more and because Campbell was assessed an instigator penalty to put Buffalo on the man advantage.